Diogo Jota impressed even as Portugal squandered a two-goal lead to be held to a 2-2 draw by Serbia at the Rajko Mitic Stadium on Saturday night.
Portugal, after their sloppy display last time out, looked sharp against Serbia and made a good start as Diogo Jota got on the end of a pass from Bernardo Silva to open the scoring just eleven minutes into the game. The Liverpool forward then made it 2-0 in the 36th minute, diverting home a fine cross from Cedric Soares from the right side.
Having had a comfortable two-goal cushion heading into half-time, Portugal were hit back just a minute after the restart as Aleksandar Mitrovic poked the ball into the net after a swift counterattack to pull one back for Serbia. The hosts then upped their game, pinning the Seleccao back as Dusan Tadic and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic came close before Filip Kostic equalised in the 60th minute.
Serbia were a man down in stoppage time as Nikola Milenkovic was sent off for a dangerous tackle on Danilo Pereira. Immediately after, Cristiano Ronaldo seemed to have won it for Portugal but Stefan Mitrovic cleared his effort off the line. Replays showed that the ball had indeed crossed the line but with no goalline technology available, the referee deemed waved it off, leaving the visitors frustrated.
After an impressive first half, Portugal were punished for taking their eye off the ball in the second period by a Serbian team who was full of purpose. And here’s how we rated the performances of Fernando Santos’ men on a frustrating night in Belgrade.
Anthony Lopes: 6/10
Hardly tested in the first half with Serbia failing to muster up much in terms of attacking threat. Not a lot he could have done about either goal from Mitrovic or Kostic. Did make a good stop to tip Tadic’s effort over the bar.
Cedric Soares: 6.5/10
Starting at right-back after not featuring against Azerbaijan, the Arsenal man set up Jota’s second goal of the night with a peach of a pass, prior to which he had made a good block to deny Filip Kostic. Failed to build on it after the break though, and lost possession a whopping 21 times on the night.
🇵🇹 Cedric Soares assist tonight for Diogo Jota 🎯 pic.twitter.com/Wpmaq6DGKe
— Chris Wheatley (@ChrisWheatley_) March 27, 2021
Jose Fonte: 5/10
Coming into the side in place of Domingos Duarte, the veteran forward was solid for the most part, making five clearances and two interceptions while also winning three aerial duels. But was outjumped by Mitrovic for the first goal and couldn’t get back in time to stop Kostic from scoring the second. Booked.
Ruben Dias: 5.5/10
An uncharacteristic display from the Manchester City ace who was not in the right position for both of Serbia’s goals. Was reliable with the ball at his feet, as usual though, completing 89% of his passes including 9/12 long passes.
Joao Cancelo: 5.5/10
A difficult outing for the full-back who wasn’t able to make much of a difference in the attacking sense while he also had his hands full against the speedy counters of the Serbians. Did make four interceptions but was also dribbled past on a couple of occasions and failed to hit a single accurate cross.
Bruno Fernandes: 6/10
Bruno fernandes vs Serbia
His first half display🇵🇹 pic.twitter.com/i2MM7aids3
— MuClipsX (@ClipsMu) March 27, 2021
A largely middling outing for Fernandes who is struggling to replicate his club form for the national team. Did play in a couple of key passes and started the move for the opener with a brilliant cross-field ball but lost possession a staggering 24 times throughout the course of the game while also earning himself a booking for a foul which means he is suspended for the next match.
Danilo Pereira: 6/10
Back into the side after missing the last game, the PSG midfielder did his bit to try and cover the defence while keeping things moving when on the ball. Made a game-high six interceptions along with a couple of clearances and a tackle but couldn’t get back quickly enough to stop Mitrovic from scoring the first.
Sergio Oliveira: 6/10
Getting the nod ahead of Joao Moutinho, the FC Porto midfielder kept things ticking along nicely while also looking to drive the team forward when on the ball. Steady and solid, if not spectacular before making way for Renato Sanches.
Bernardo Silva: 7/10
Moved into an advanced role after starting in midfield last time out, Silva looked in his elements from the get-go creating a chance for Ronaldo which he spurned. Set up Jota for the opening goal soon after with a fine pass. Played three key passes – the joint-highest on the night along with Serbia’s Dusan Tadic. Faded after the break though.
Cristiano Ronaldo: 5/10
The reason Cristiano Ronaldo was so angry 👀 pic.twitter.com/8Wua9iNRSx
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) March 28, 2021
Another game where the Portuguese captain underwhelmed. Fired a shot over the bar early on while his free-kicks were also poor on the night. Did seem to have won it for Portugal late on but his goal was wrongfully denied by the referee. Booked for dissent over the decision. Needs to step up.
Diogo Jota: 8/10
Introduced into the lineup for Saturday’s game, the Liverpool forward looked up for it from the word go as he put Portugal in front with a good header before firing in another headed effort to make it 2-0 within 40 minutes of the game. Did his fair share off the ball too, winning five duels along with completing a tackle and an interception. Much like most of his teammates, faded after the break.
Diogo Jota for club & country in 2020-21 so far:
◎ 30 games
◎ 17 starts
◉ 15 goals
He's on for a hat-trick. pic.twitter.com/Tg48UJbwW9
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 27, 2021
Nuno Mendes: 6/10
Replaced Cancelo with a little under 20 minutes left. Looked bright going forward from left-back, delivered one key pass.
Renato Sanches: 5/10
On for Oliveira in the 72nd minute. Couldn’t do much to sway the result in his team’s favour.
Joao Felix: N/A
Came on for Jota for the final five minutes or so.
Joao Palhinha: N/A
Late substitute for Bruno Fernandes.